The Chevy Impala is entering its 10th generation, and though it is expected to continue to be a mainstay for police fleets around the country, most are still operating with 9th generation Impalas. Fortunately, there are plenty of manufacturers and upfitters still focused on the 9th generation, as it’s one of those ol’ reliable police sedans that form the backbone of a fleet. Though they are not pursuit rated, they are excellent patrol and prisoner vehicles, as well as chief and CID vehicles. In short, they can fill a variety of roles, depending on how they are configured. And unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of configuration options for the Impala, so it can be easily altered for any job.
The Impala is one of the few vehicles, of any manufacturer, to be designed from the ground floor to fit a police role. This design approach gives the Impala a few stark advantages over most other models. For one, it is built with an extremely high level of durability and safety, and this latter point comes through clearly with the Impala’s brakes. They are consistently rated at or near the top in deceleration rates every year.
Of course, what matters here, when talking about configuration, is how easy the vehicle is to upfit. And again, because the Impala was a police vehicle first, it is a prime candidate for aftermarket additions.
The best example of this easy upfitting design is in the Impala’s wiring harnesses. Specifically, they are designed right into the vehicle’s base system, so it’s a true plug and play approach to tech additions. It’s about as simple as it gets, with no need to splice wiring or fumble with unwieldy connections. The Impala is also built with an auxiliary power supply, so it is expecting and accommodating
This gives the Impala unparalleled capacity for upfitting. But what, exactly, should that upfitting look like? There are plenty of options here, including:
1. Partitions – Every police vehicle needs a partition if it is ever going to transport prisoners. The Impala is compatible with a variety of partitions, fortunately, including some that improve the vehicle’s functionality in addition to securing a prisoner. Which partition works best depends on what degree of security a fleet needs when transporting prisoners. A full polycarbonate window offers excellent security, but restricts airflow. It is ideal when a patrol is expecting to deal with aggressive passengers. For added airflow, consider a 50-50 window and screen partition. The steel screen will prevent any kick outs and will allow police to better communicate with any backseat passenger.
But options are always best, which is why the most popular partition choice is the sliding polycarbonate window. When open, airflow is improved, but the partition can be closed as soon as the prisoner becomes difficult.
Some partitions also come with mounting spots for gun racks or additional cargo space. Extra cargo is always welcome, though not always a necessity in the Impala, which is built with a roomy interior.
2. Lightbars – As a primary patrol vehicle, the Impala needs standout lighting and siren technology to be seen and heard. Lightbars are the most important element in that equation, and the Impala can be paired with one of many on the market. Because the Impala’s wiring is simplified for police purposes, it can accommodate most lightbars, including those from highly respected manufacturers. That includes lightbars from Federal Signal, Feniex and Star Signal.
Modern lightbars are engineered with LED technology, and this represents a smart investment for fleet managers. LEDs last longer and are much more durable, so they can take the kind of punishment that comes with patrol work. They are also easier to control, so they can be programmed to a finer degree and with additional flash patterns.
3. Laptop mount – The roomy Impala interior allows for plenty of space for a laptop mount. And again, there are options here for the Impala, with Jotto Desk and Ram Mounts serving as two fine examples. Laptop mounts should be easy to mount into the vehicle’s existing hardware, and ideally no drilling is required. An articulating neck is also convenient and should be prioritized, as it allows an officer to manipulate the laptop in any way they see fit. That’s usually a must when the officer is operating the laptop from the driver seat.
4. Firearm mounting systems – Gun racks are another point of emphasis in the Impala, given its patrol role. Manufacturers like Progard and Setina are strong options in this area, as they offer state of the art electronic locking technology. Setina also builds gun racks designed to mount to a partition for added convenience and space efficiency. Single or double weapon rack mounts are available, and options like the Setina Vaultlock mounting system secures the trigger, take down pins and magazine.
For added security, make sure the locks auto engage once the engine is switched off. A five to 10 second timer is standard for this purpose.
Those are just some of the configuration options to consider with the Impala. In a patrol role, the addition of prisoner containment partitions and weapon mounting systems will provide the officer with additional safety and reduce demands on their attention. And with a durable, reliable laptop mount, patrol officers and chiefs can easily keep their work at hand.
The Impala is a reliable, durable and affordable vehicle that is synonymous with police work. And with the proper upfit, it can specialized for any job.